A good ghost story depends upon the creation of atmosphere and the build up of suspense. Show how these two ingredients are important in at least two ghost stories Ghost stories are popular with people because we enjoy being frightened. This feeling is created by the build of suspense and tension in the stories, making us excited and jumpy, letting our mind Create mysterious thoughts and what will happen next. An example of this is in the “Blair Witch Project”.
It is set at night in an eerie forest and the characters are surrounded by trees, so someone could be there watching them but they can’t see anything moving, they can only hear the noises of things around them, rustling in the bushes. In the film “What Lies Beneath” mysterious faces keep appearing around the house of a young girl, who the man of the house had a secret past with her. The two ghost stories I have read are “The Red Room” and “The Demon Lover”, are quite different from each other, but both include similar typical ingredients of a ghost story.
Typical ingredients of a ghost story include, the feeling of panic and being trapped, isolation and loneliness, dark weird rooms, eerie music, an evil history, a person alone, large old house with a Gothic type theme and there are many more. Again the film “What Lies Beneath” has a good example of evil history, as a man is haunted by a girl he had an affair with and then murdered. “The Haunting” also has an evil history, as everyone who lives in this house, where the story is set, dies.
Examples of typical ingredients of a ghost story in The Red Room and The Demon Lover include the feeling of being alone and isolated. In The Red Room, this feeling occurs when the narrator is in the red room and all the candles are being blown out, gradually reducing the amount of light in the room. And in the demon lover it is where Mrs Drover is alone in her house and the desolated streets. The time, in which the two stories are set in are different. “The Red Room” is set at night in an old, Gothic style, where as “The Demon Lover” is set in the day, in the Second World War.
Both of the main characters also get a feeling of panic and being trapped, e. g. in “The Red Room” when the narrator is falling over and tripping up and walking into objects, when all the candles have been blown out and the example in “The Demon Lover” is where Mrs Drover is being driven off in the taxi, screaming and trying to get out. The houses in each story also have a resemblance, because in “The Red Room” the story is set in an old, eerie, isolated, that has “Chilly, echoing passages” and “The Demon Lover” is set in a sparse, un-inhabited area, in a cold, empty house.
Another example is ‘strange happenings’. In “The Red Room” it is weird when all the candles get blown out at once and wont relight and in “The Demon Lover” it is where the letter from ‘k’ is on the table in the hall. This is weird because there is no way that it could have got there, unless someone broke into the house, but there are no signs of that and no one had entered the house whilst she ad been away. The Demon Lover” is set in the time of the Second world war, and is about a woman called Mrs Drover, who after being forced to the country, due to the bombing, she returns home to collect some of her remaining possessions, when she finds a letter from a long, lost, lover who is supposedly dead. This makes her remember her past with him, when she agreed to marry him before he went away to war 1st World War. Later on he was reported missing, supposedly dead.
The thought of him now makes her worry, so she orders a taxi to get to the train station, but as she gets into the taxi, she sees the same face that she saw all them years ago, of the soldier she had agreed to marry. Mrs Drover tries to escape from the taxi but the doors are locked. The taxi driver then speeds off down the sparse streets with Mrs Drover clawing at the window in an effort to escape. “She continued to scream freely and to beat with her gloved hands on the glass all round as the taxi, accelerating without mercy, made off with her into the hinterland of deserted streets”. The Red Room” is set in an old house, inhabited only by three old people. The narrator of the story, whose name is not given, is at the house because there is supposed to be a ghost there. He is very sceptical about this and in an effort to make his point he offers to spend a night in ‘The Red Room’. After 5recieving instructions on how to get to the red room, as the old people wont show him the way, he begins to make his way down the long, winding, cold passages of Lorraine Castle.
As he reaches the room, he starts to examine it, putting candles in all the dark coves in the room, until there are no dark places left in the room. He begins to feel a bit nervous, after only being in the room for a short time. “I was in a state of considerable nervous tension, although to my reason there was no adequate cause for the condition”. Candles suddenly start to blow out and normal objects in the room start to look life-like as shadows are cast across the room. The narrator tries to relight the candles, but as he lights one, another goes out. Then as they
Previous all go out he is left in total darkness, unable to see anything and as he tries to find the door, he starts walking into things and falling over objects, thinking that it is a ghost doing this, until he knocks himself unconscious. When awaking from his accident he, is confronted by the old people peering over him. They tell him that they found him outside the room, with blood seeping from his head and mouth. He then gives his own explanation of what it is that is in the room, saying that it is fear. “There is no ghost there at all; but worse, far worseâ€¦fear”.
Suspense is also used in the two stories to create the atmosphere. The term ‘suspense’, means, “A state of anxious uncertainty, e. g. the film kept us in suspense about the murderers identity”. Writers of ghost stories keep you in suspense by building up tension. The tension needs to be built up and has to keep rising, but not too much, other wise it spoils the story and it is then too predictable, so there needs to be a break i. e. go to something else and then return to the tension. In “The Red Room” and “The Demon Lover”, suspense is deliberately built up throughout the stories.
Suspense is built up at the start of the two stories, which is good as it is what makes a book hard to put down. A sense of death and mystery is made preset, with quotes like “It was your own choosing” from “The Red Room” and “Dead air” from “The Demon Lover” “The Red Room” isn’t too predictable, so the suspense is not lost. The old people add to it as well, as you are left wondering if they have got anything to do with the mystery of Lorraine castle, because they wouldn’t show the narrator the way to the room.
Suspense is then built when the narrator is investigating the room, because we are wondering what there is to investigate and then suspense is built again at the end, where we are left wondering whether there really is a ghost or if it is just the narrators imagination. In “The Demon Lover”, the story is a bit more predictable, but it does have its good points, i. e. When Mrs Drover finds the newly placed letter, when no one has entered the house whilst she has been away. Just the fact that she’s a middle class woman by her self in an empty house, on an empty street, builds up the suspense.
Suspense is built all the way through the story, but I think the ending is a bit of a disappointment and is too predictable, but the fact that the writer leaves you wondering where the taxi driver is going helps build the suspense. The endings of ghost stories are a major part of them, they are what ‘tops off’ the suspense. The endings of “The Red Room” and “The Demon Lover” are both different, but the reader is left wondering, what happened and what is going to happen. In my own personal opinion, I think “The Red Room” has the better ending. I think this because the story line builds it up to finish it off well.
You are left in a state of mystery, wondering whether there is really a ghost or if it’s someone playing a trick on him. The suspense before the ending isn’t built up, too much or too less and the story isn’t too predictable. Where as “The Demon Lover” isn’t as dramatic and exciting and the story line is quite predictable. Despite the fact that the ending is quite good, it doesn’t live up to its full expectations, although this is just my opinion. We are left wondering at the end about what has happened to Mrs Dover, where has the taxi driver taken her?
Did he take her away because he was getting revenge as she married someone else? These are all un-answered questions about what happened. I personally, do like ghost stories that scare me, because it makes me feel excited and my imagination runs wild. I think ghost stories set in the modern age are scarier because it makes them seem more life-like, making you think these weird happenings, are really true and could actually happen. There are different endings to ghost stories as some lave you wondering what is going to happen, but some follow through and show you what happens.
I think the cut short ending is most effective, that way your mind still wonders, but if it shows you the very end, it sort of spoils it, as your mind is cleared of these thoughts, so there isn’t as much excitement and it makes the story less scary. My imagination is triggered by mysterious happenings and ghosts coming back to haunt people. If the story is set In this day and age, it adds to the realism. A good example of this is in the film “What Lies Beneath”. Other people may think differently about this, as they have their own, different opinions, but these are what I think.